ECC Platform Library


Climate Diplomacy – 10 Key Publications

20 December, 2016
Helen Sharp, Stella Schaller and William Hull

Climate Diplomacy reading list for Christmas

The need for a new era of climate diplomacy – one where climate risks are integrated into foreign policy agendas – is great, given the various security implications of climate change. There are different entry points and approaches to climate diplomacy, ranging from informal diplomatic efforts to transboundary resource management and conflict-sensitive adaptation. We’ve compiled a list of our 10 key publications touching upon different dimensions of climate diplomacy. Enjoy the read!  


A New Climate For Peace. Report for the G7.

A New Climate For Peace - Taking Action on Climate and Fragility Risks

"A New Climate for Peace" is an independent report commissioned by members of the G7 Member States. The report identifies seven compound climate-fragility risks that pose serious threats to the stability of states and societies in the decades ahead.

Based on a thorough assessment of existing policies on climate change adaptation, development cooperation and humanitarian aid, and peacebuilding, the report recommends that the G7 take concrete action, both as individual members and jointly, to tackle climate-fragility risks and increase the resilience of states and societies to them.

Rüttinger, Lukas; Gerald Stang, Dan Smith, Dennis Tänzler, Janani Vivekananda et al. 2015: A New Climate for Peace – Taking Action on Climate and Fragility Risks. Berlin/London/ Washington/Paris: adelphi, International Alert, The Wilson Center, EUISS.


Report Towards A Global Resilience Agenda

Towards A Global Resilience Agenda: Action on Climate Fragility Risks

Building upon the above-mentioned "A New Climate for Peace" report, this report, published one year on, takes stock of the steps taken and provides a proper global risk scan.

The intersection of accelerating impacts of climate change, the continuing increase in the number of armed conflicts and deepening geopolitical rivalries create a deeply unsettling new normal. At the same time, the international community has shown that it can act together to address global problems.

The Agenda 2030, the Paris Agreement, the World Humanitarian Summit, and Habitat III all illustrate that there are efforts to find a viable change strategy. This is mirrored by activities of the G7, the UN, the African Union and the European Union.

Mobjörk, Malin; Dan Smith and Lukas Rüttinger 2016: Towards A Global Resilience Agenda. Action on Climate Fragility Risks. The Hague/Berlin/Stockholm: Clingendael Institute/adelphi/SIPRI.


Water and Climate Diplomacy - Integrative Approaches for Adaptive Action in Transboundary River Basins

Water and Climate Diplomacy. Integrative Approaches for Adaptive Action in Transboundary River Basins

Stability and cooperation are preconditions for successful adaptation to increasing water shortages. This report outlines key water governance instruments that support climate change adaptation in transboundary basins.

An increasing number of river basins use such instruments, for example data and information sharing mechanisms or flexible water treaties, to address the impacts of climate change and build adaptive capacities. Yet, this report also shows that in many basins, such instruments are not employed at all, or only to a limited extent. In identifying existing shortcomings, the report asks how such weaknesses could potentially be ameliorated by climate policy instruments.

Blumstein, Sabine; Benjamin Pohl and Dennis Tänzler (2016): Water and Climate Diplomacy. Integrative Approaches for Adaptive Action in Transboundary River Basins. Berlin: adelphi. Supported by the German Federal Foreign Office.


Urbanization and Climate Diplomacy adelphi report 2015

Urbanization and Climate Diplomacy. The Stake of Cities in Global Climate Governance

Cities are increasingly asserting themselves at the global level, as evidenced by their growing prominence in international negotiation processes, particularly the UNFCCC.

Cities, their needs and potential need to be better considered during climate negotiations. An increasing level of collaboration among cities makes it more feasible than ever for national governments to engage with cities as a coherent group of actors. However, what role they should play remains unclear.

This paper examines the relevance of cities and city networks in the current international climate policy architecture and addresses the role that cities should play based on their potential to drive climate policies from the bottom up.

Fischer, Kaj; Eleni Dellas, Franziska Schreiber, Michele Acuto, Daniel London, Dennis Tänzler and Alexander Carius 2015: Urbanization and Climate Diplomacy. The Stake of Cities in Global Climate Governance. Berlin: adelphi.


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Climate Change and Mining. A Foreign Policy Perspective

The increasing number of extreme weather events, and their impacts, has led to increasing awareness in the extractives industries of the potential negative impacts of climate change. In response, the industry has started thinking about its own vulnerabilities and the risks climate change could pose.

However, to date, there has been little research and debate that takes a more comprehensive look at the links between climate change and mining. With this report, Lukas Rüttinger and Vigya Sharma try to fill this gap, by shedding some light on these links and providing an overview of the complex challenges around extractive resources in the context of climate change, highlighting four entry points for foreign policy.

Rüttinger, Lukas and Vigya Sharma 2016: Climate Change and Mining. A Foreign Policy Perspective. Berlin: adelphi.


Infographic Co-Benefits of Climate Action

Infographic: Climate Diplomacy - Realising the Benefits of Climate Action

Climate action presents great opportunities to grow the economy sustainably. Up to 90% of climate actions needed to stay below 2°C warming are compatible with economic development and with improving living standards. Comparing the costs and all benefits shows: climate action is an imperative because it makes economic sense. The infographic is a useful resource that helps diplomats and policy makers to promote a better understanding of these co-benefits.


Conflict-sensitive adaptation to climate change in Africa

Conflict-sensitive adaptation to climate change in Africa

This edited volume focuses on conflict-sensitivity in climate change adaptation strategies and practices in Africa and brings together the voices of academics, practitioners and policymakers from across the globe and Africa. Key questions that frame the contributions are: how do climate change and/or climate adaptation projects cause or contribute to conflicts, and how can adaptation measures be conflict-sensitive?

Extensive research provides insight into climate change effects and various mitigation and adaptation strategies – often in conflict prone or post-conflict states. Further, drawing on African experiences, the highly multi-disciplinary nature of the policy and practice of conflict-sensitive adaptation emerges. The volume provides compelling analyses and recommendations for the development of conflict-sensitive adaptation tools and policies.

Bob, Urmilla and Salomé Bronkhorst (Eds.): Conflict-sensitive adaptation to climate change in Africa. Climate Diplomacy Series. Berlin: Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag.



New Paths for Climate Diplomacy

 The effects of climate change will increasingly shape our security in the coming years. The environment is now in a state of flux, posing significant challenges to how societies function. This may have serious economic, social and political consequences for entire regions. adelphi and its partners formed an alliance with the German Federal Foreign Office and have played a central role in the process of analysing the international debates on climate diplomacy and security, while developing key narratives, contributing to awareness raising and capacity building efforts, and supporting international and regional dialogues on this topic around the world. In this publication, we seek to illustrate the rationale and results of adelphi’s engagement in climate diplomacy activities – efforts undertaken to help foster a response to climate change that is commensurate with its status as one of the key foreign policy challenges of the 21st century.

Adriázola, Paola; Alexander Carius, Laura Griestop, Lena Ruthner, Dennis Tänzler, Joe Thwaites and Stephan Wolters 2014: New Paths for Climate Diplomacy. Berlin: adelphi.


Climate Diplomacy in Perspective

Climate Diplomacy in Perspective: From Early Warning to Early Action

This is one of the founding documents of a new global discourse on climate diplomacy. The publication highlights the key positions in the debate on the security risks of climate change and the prospects of climate diplomacy.

The publication gives particular emphasis to water resource management, global food security, and rising sea levels that threaten coastal areas and low-lying island states. The authors explore ways to further develop regional cooperation and dialogue in light of a changing climate and provide strong arguments for urgent action that complements international climate negotiations.

Tänzler, Dennis and Alexander Carius (ed.) 2012: Climate Diplomacy in Perspective. From Early Warning to Early Action. Berlin: Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag.


And last but not least, a publication by our colleagues from E3G that is worth consulting: 

EU Foreign Policy in a Changing Climate: A Climate and Energy Strategy for Europe’s Long-Term Security

The EU Global Strategy, presented by the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini in June 2016, is a key moment to refresh the EU’s approach to maintaining its prosperity and security in a rapidly changing world.

In this report, Luca Bergamaschi, Nick Mabey, Jonathan Gaventa and Camilla Born from E3G explore practical actions that EU foreign policy institutions could undertake to manage climate risk and an orderly global transition. This will require a new approach to diplomacy, to the European neighborhood, to trading partners and fossil fuel suppliers, to investment and development assistance and to global markets.


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ArticleClimate Diplomacy


Adaptation & Resilience

All countries will need to adapt to some of the environmental, social and economic impacts of climate change that are already unavoidable. Food security, livelihoods, water resource availability and public health are some affected areas. People living in poverty are more vulnerable, having a lower capacity to adapt. Thus, it is essential to promote resilience building. The adaptation and resilience aspects need to be mainstreamed into planning by policy makers and the private sector as well as integrated into development strategies.

Biodiversity & Livelihoods

Nature protection is most sustainable if it essentially contributes to the long-term stability of human needs. Today many regions around the world are confronted with increasing destruction of the natural foundations of life. The consequences of wide-ranging resource destruction are no longer regionally limited, but rather represent a global threat. Those affected are mainly rural populations, who find the sources of their income and the foundations of their way of life swept away. The depletion and destruction of natural resources goes hand in hand with decreasing agricultural yields and increasing poverty, which in turn forces the affected populations to deplete the remaining resources.

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Capacity Building

On the one hand, conflicts are caused by structural factors, such as economic and social inequality or environmental destruction. On the other hand, conflicts are fuelled by a lack of democratic structures, deficient mechanisms of non-violent conflict settlement, inadequate rule of law, the destruction of social and cultural identity and the disregard of human rights. Against this backdrop, development policies have been dedicated to a broad concept of security, which comprises political, economic, ecological and social stability. As a consequence, development cooperation agencies and actors have developed a broad spectrum of approaches for conflict prevention and transformation as well as for sustainable use of natural resources.

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Civil Society

Civil society is the first victim of environmental pollution, under-development and conflicts. Economically disadvantaged and politically marginalized population groups are particularly affected by violent conflicts as well as increasing resource degradation. Simultaneously, civil society is a fundamental pillar for implementing sustainable development. It contributes in many ways to strengthening conflict prevention and plays a significant role in the peaceful and democratic development of states. It must be supported to strengthen civil rights, adherence to human rights in general and democratic participation.

Climate Change

Climate change resulting from the emission of greenhouse gases represents one of the vital challenges for international environmental policy. Flooding, droughts, shifting of climate zones and increasingly frequent and intense extreme weather events will have serious economic and social consequences for entire regions. The climate problem is also directly linked to the question of future energy generation.

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Climate Diplomacy

To address the challenges posed by climate change, a new profile of climate diplomacy is evolving. This utilises a full range of policies, including development cooperation, conflict prevention efforts, and humanitarian assistance, in addition to more traditional measures of climate change adaptation and mitigation. Moving from a risk analysis of climate-related threats to well-timed preventive action requires a greater commitment to integrating climate change concerns into development, foreign, and security policies. Examples include strengthening diplomatic networks, building new alliances with partners, and raising awareness – not only of potentially negative climate change impacts, but also of opportunities to embark on a sustainable transformation of our societies.

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Climate action entails an array of economic, social, political and environmental co-benefits. It provides an opportunity for economic growth and new jobs. Many investments can take into account climate considerations without becoming more costly. Further important co-benefits include: improved energy security, less local air and water pollution, health benefits as well as ecosystem and biodiversity protection.

Conflict Transformation

In order to overcome the structural causes of violent conflicts and thus bring about an improvement in the framework conditions for peaceful and fair development, it is essential to have long term and broadly planned peace development and peace advancement. Various governmental and non-governmental, national and international actors and groups are involved in these processes.

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Climate change and development are inextricably linked. Climate change endangers the development agenda and has the potential to reverse development goals. Furthermore, successful mitigation of climate change heavily depends on development choices around the world. Therefore, development strategies need to be climate-compatible to provide long-term success, and there are viable policy options that support this compatibility. Many mitigation and adaptation activities can present development opportunities to developing countries and avoid the lock-in to environmentally damaging technologies.

Early Warning & Risk Analysis

The reasons for the development and escalation of conflicts and the incidence of risks are multifaceted and complex. Simultaneously, the assessment of the specific causes in the form of risk and conflict analyses can contribute to a better understanding of these processes and make it possible to provide warning of negative developments, or ideally help prevent them. In the context of natural resource use, risks and conflicts have gained increasing attention in the past years. The debate on possible future water wars is merely one example.

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The well-being of individuals, communities and nations depends on the availability of energy resources. The gap between energy supply and demand appears to be growing, making the world vulnerable to serious economic shocks. At the same time, the burning of fossil fuels causing climate change is one of the vital challenges of international environmental policy. So far, only rudimentary approaches exist for shaping climate and energy security in a sustainable way. The components of a strategy that can contribute to reducing vulnerabilities related to climate change and energy policy include a greater role for renewable energies, the improvement of energy efficiency and a stronger decentralisation of energy supply.

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Environment & Migration

The economic, social and environmental consequences of climate change aggravate the breakdown of eco-system-dependent livelihoods and are likely to become dominant drivers of long-term migration. Natural disasters already cause massive shorter-term displacement and the number of temporarily displaced people is likely to further increase with climate change. For vulnerable populations in vulnerable regions, such as the Sahel zone or the Ganges delta, migration often becomes the sole survival strategy. In order to address climate-related displacement and migration successfully, knowledge of effective adaptation and an improved understanding of how environmental change affects human mobility is essential. 

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Climate finance, from all sources, plays a key role in supporting and enabling adaptation and mitigation action as well as climate and energy innovation. The Paris Agreement ensured that the Green Climate Fund and the Global Environment Facility are at the core of climate finance architecture as entities entrusted with the operation of the Financial Mechanism of the UNFCCC. Increasing climate finance from all relevant public and private sources is crucial. Furthermore, much needs to be done to redirect finance flows to sustainable paths, e.g. reducing fossil fuel subsidies, introducing maritime and air transportation taxes. The conditions for green investment in developing countries should also be improved.


Forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. Competition for forest resources triggers, exacerbates, or finances numerous crises and conflicts in tropical developing countries. Illegal logging and timber trade foster instability and sometimes violent conflict by strengthening illegal and armed groups, increasing corruption and exacerbating use and claim conflicts among local communities, the state and the business sector. Forests are a vital resource to poor people but they can also become areas of conflict. Sustainable management of forest resources is therefore key to preventing violent conflict over and within forests.

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Gender plays an important role as a category of conflict for many reasons. The interlinkages between gender, environment and conflicts are complex and much research is still needed. Existing insights suggest that conflicts may worsen gender inequalities that existed before the outbreak of violence. The unequal distribution of land property rights in many parts of the world serves as an example. Moreover, women (and children) are among those most affected by both violent conflict and natural disasters. At the same time, women carry much of the burden of trying to implement rehabilitation measures after crisis events.

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Land & Food

Increasing water scarcity, desertification and crop failures due to extreme weather events are becoming more and more of a threat to global food production. While the world’s population continues to grow rapidly, food production is unable to keep pace. Due to the global food crisis in 2008, the number of hungry people reached the symbolic one billion threshold for the first time – corresponding to about 16 percent of world population. Food insecurity may be a consequence or cause of conflicts. Violent conflicts often lead to the destruction of agricultural infrastructure and means of production, as well as to the displacement of local communities.

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Minerals & Mining

In the past, the discovery and tapping of valuable or strategic resources like valuable minerals, oil and natural gas, particularly in developing and emerging countries, has often led to large scale environmental contamination and negative development. The "resource curse" of some countries shows that the wealth from resource yields is frequently unfairly distributed; instead of serving development it advanced the formation of corrupt elites and in some cases even led to conflicts and civil wars. Measures in various sectors and at all levels are important in order to use the potential of these natural resources in a manner that is sustainable and prevents conflicts.

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Private Sector

The spread of violent conflict not only affects people but also companies located in such regions. Destruction of investments and infrastructure, collapse of markets and trade partnerships, flight and expulsion of employees are phenomena of conflicts and environment-induced crises that directly affect companies in unstable regions. Almost all branches of the economy thus have a clear interest in a stable and peaceful environment for their activities. Conversely, the business sector plays an important role in the interaction of economic growth, social development and a healthy environment, all of which can advance peace and sustainable development. 

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Environmental issues have a significant security dimension. Access to, and overuse of, natural resources often play a key role in civil wars or other forms of internal domestic conflict. This is compounded by climate change and environmental degradation. Climate change is now widely recognised as a non-traditional, risk-multiplying threat that will have increasing security impacts. Key risks with possible implications for human and national security include water scarcity, food crises, natural disasters, and displacement. More preventive diplomacy and advocacy is needed to address the strategic implications of climate and environmental change.

Sustainable Transformation

Sustainable Transformation allows societies to profit from a growing, environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive economy – especially in emerging and developing countries. This requires a higher up-front investment, but the benefits of a sustainable transformation in the medium and long term are significant. For instance, energy cost savings and reducing the impact of price volatility offer major incentives for deploying renewable energies and promoting energy efficiency. Such benefits exist in all key sectors of the economy.

Technology & Innovation

Innovations and technologies are already readily available and affordable but their global diffusion and uptake remains a challenge. Innovation and technology are crucial to achieving ambitious climate change mitigation and adaptation targets. However, research and development often do not receive appropriate public support. Developing countries can leapfrog high-carbon industrialisation phases by adopting, deploying and improving existing innovations and technologies. For this, it is essential to minimise financial, administrative and political barriers.


The availability of freshwater resources in sufficient quantity and quality is essential for the preservation of human health and sound ecosystems. The use of water resources is also vital, however, for economic development: whether for agriculture, industrial production or for electricity generation. The world's freshwater resources are distributed very unevenly in terms of geography and seasons. In addition, water shortage is becoming more prevalent in several regions due to population growth, economic development, urbanisation and increasing environmental pollution. Thus, water resources can hold potential for conflicts between parties who have different interests and needs.

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The environment in Asia is already under tremendous pressure as a result of the unsustainable use of land, forests, water and even air in many regions. Climate change will only exacerbate these challenges. Rising sea levels will likely endanger densely populated areas, changes in the monsoon patterns can strongly impact agriculture, melting glaciers will increase long-term water scarcity, and extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall and cyclones can pose further hazards.

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Central America & Caribbean

Natural disasters and water scarcity are key challenges for most of Central America and the Caribbean. These challenges will become even more pronounced as the climate changes. Weak resource and disaster risk management and land disputes pose additional security challenges for large parts of the region. Several countries of Central America and the Caribbean have limited adaptive capacities as they face political instability caused by high social inequality, crime, corruption, and intra-state conflicts.

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As one of the most developed and most densely populated regions in the world, Europe makes heavy use of its resources, resulting in difficult trade-offs and negative consequences for the environment and ecosystems. Land is used for settlements, agriculture and dense infrastructure, creating problems of soil degradation. Water resources are stressed due to unsustainable agricultural practices. Despite nature protection policies, Europe continues to lose biodiversity at an alarming pace. Some of these trends are exacerbated by climate change, which is expected, for instance, to lead to shifts in water availability.

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Global Issues

Resource scarcities, environmental pollution and climate change are not limited by national borders, but often have a transboundary or even global impact. These issues interact with political stability, governance structures and economic performance, and can trigger or worsen disputes and violent conflicts. Exacerbating some of these trends, climate change is likely to lead to the degradation of freshwater resources, declines in food production, increases in storm and flood disasters and environmentally induced migration. All these developments pose potential for conflict.

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Middle East & North Africa

The geopolitical position of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), its fossil fuel resources, high population growth and the political changes spurred by the Arab Spring all make the region one of the most dynamic in the world. Nevertheless, it is also one of the most arid and environmentally stressed. Dwindling water resources, limited arable and grazing land, high pollution from household and industrial waste, remnants of conflicts and increasing desertification are key environmental challenges.

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North America

Climate change has various impacts on the three North American countries of Canada, Mexico and the US. Canada and the US have well-developed adaptive capacities and foster the strengthening of capacities in other regions as well. With high per capita emissions, these two countries also bear a greater responsibility for a changing climate. Mexico has a sound national strategy for climate change adaptation, yet fewer capacities than Canada and the US. The poorer and rural populations of Mexico are especially vulnerable to climate change, due to an increased sensitivity and a lower adaptive capacity.

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Oceania & Pacific

In Oceania, population growth and economic development trends put a strain on oceanic and island ecosystems. Freshwater scarcity, overexploitation of fisheries, loss of land biodiversity, forests and trees, invasive species, soil degradation, increasing levels of settlement, poor management of solid and hazardous waste and disproportionate use of coastal areas are some of the problems. Climate change exacerbates most of these trends, while also raising questions about the future sovereignty of some island states.

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South America

South America has diverse and unique ecosystems and is very rich in biodiversity. Weak natural resource management, land disputes and extreme weather events bring about significant challenges for the region. While South America accounts for relatively few CO2 emissions, the changing climate will alter its ecosystems and greater climate variability will lead to more hurricanes, landslides, and droughts.

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Sub-Saharan Africa

In many African states, environmental security issues rank high on the political agenda. Throughout the continent, countries suffer from water scarcity, food insecurity and energy poverty. These chronic and worsening resource scarcities have severe livelihood implications and are exacerbated by political conflicts over access to and control over these resources. Climate change may seriously threaten political and economic stability in Africa. It may also put a severe strain on the capacities of states and societies to co-ordinate activities, to communicate and to organize.

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